Checkered Flag Finds a Winning Strategy to Increase Sales and Service

Checkered Flag, a Virginia Beach Toyota dealership, increased its sales and service business by implementing a targeted marketing strategy that targets who they consider to be the perfect prospects in their market and they have dramatically improved their business by improving their marketing and communication strategies.

Checkered Flag, like many economically savvy dealers these days, shifted from expensive mass marketing to more cost effective targeted marketing that generates better returns. They began by defining the ‘perfect market’ and ‘perfect prospects’ to target.


Checkered Flag’s perfect market was determined by a five-year historical assessment of the dealership’s sales and service business combined with multiple consumer databases to identify where 90 percent of their past business had come from, and further identify where their perfect prospects live. 


Of approximately 1.5 million consumers in the Virginia Beach market only 60,800 have a high statistical probability of buying or servicing a Toyota from Checkered Flag this month, “ says Budd Blackburn, co-founder of Team Velocity, the targeted marketing company that works with Checkered Flag. “Since we know where most of our customers live we target those areas,” says Tim Rayfield, general manager, Checkered Flag Toyota. “We send custom emails and mailers to in-market consumers who live in those areas and drive Toyotas or conquest vehicles that have a high historical crossover percentage and the response rates are fantastic. Our goal is to reach in-market consumers before our competitors so we take them out of the market before they buy elsewhere. We are also picking up a lot of great one owner trade-ins for a lot less than we would pay at auction which has helped our certified pre-owned business.”


Checkered Flag also markets more aggressively to consumers who have a higher potential lifetime value by targeting consumers who historically have had a higher probability of buying and returning for service. “The best customer you can ever find is the one you already have,” explains Rayfield.


Checkered Flag discovered that sales from customers who drive long distances to buy a vehicle at the dealership often have lower gross profits and very low retention rate for service and repeat sales. On the contrary, customers who live in Checkered Flag’s ‘perfect market’ not only have a higher probability of doing business now, but spend more and are more loyal in the long term. “Some sales managers get excited when they sell a customer from another city or state, but they really should be celebrating the local customers that will come back to them to buy and service more often and pay more per visit,” offers Blackburn.


Checkered Flag Toyota not only targets the right customer they also speak to them the right way. The dealership uses customized messaging based on the current status of the customer. “We used to spend too much money sending too many campaigns to our customers from different departments and it confused our customers and cost too much,” adds Rayfield. “For example, in the past a customer with a three-year old Camry could receive emails and mailers from sales, service, finance, and the manufacturer. Now we send one campaign that promotes multiple profit centers by customizing the message to what our customer needs at the time.”


Checkered Flag has also elevated their brand image by paying more attention to what they put in front of their best customers. “Today we make sure that everything we send to our customer base is top notch and builds our brand image at every touch point. Our materials have a high-end look and feel that builds trust and credibility with our customers and it gets better responses,” notes Rayfield.


Checkered Flag’s holistic communication strategy is helping them attract, sell, service, and retain more customers for less cost than traditional mass marketing. Rayfield summarizes it best, “It works because we are marketing more effectively to customers who have a higher probability of buying and servicing more with our dealership.”


Budd Blackburn is the co-founder of Team Velocity, one of the nation’s leading and newest targeted marketing companies. For more information, call 888-552-1979 or visit





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